On June 26th, the Coyotes will add a few new pieces to the puzzle through the 2015 entry draft. They have eight picks, including the third overall. This is the third time in Coyotes franchise history they have held the third overall pick. Only twice in franchise history have they drafted higher, second overall in 1980 and first overall in 1981, as the Winnipeg Jets. The last time we picked third overall was 2007 when Kyle Turris was selected.
Coyotes fans had high hopes for Turris, but he struggled, to put it lightly, under Dave Tippett. Hopefully, this year’s pick turns out better than Turris. Third times a charm, right?
Most NHL Fans know Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will go first and second, respectively, but who will the Coyotes pick up in the third slot? There are three likely suspects: Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, and Noah Hanifin.
Dylan Strome, a center, won the OHL scoring title in 2014-2015. He ended the season with 45 goals and 84 assists for a total of 129 points. Strome is a leader on the ice but not overly flashy. He projects to be a solid player for years to come. Strome has earned a comparison to John Tavares of the New York Islanders based on his passing ability and creativity with the puck. Strome’s only downside may be his skating speed, which may improve as he gains experience.
Mitch Marner is a right wing with the stick skills similar to Chicago’s Patrick Kane. Marner averaged two points per game in the 2014-2015 season, fairly close to Kane’s 2.5 the year before he was drafted. Max Domi and Christian Dvorak are both familiar with Marner as they all play for the London Knights. It would be like getting the band back together if the Coyotes drafted Marner. He works hard in all three zones and has been known to be a relentless backchecker. At 5’11, Marner is a little on the small side, which is where some of the concern lies. Marner is a hard worker and likes to put the puck in the back of the net. After the season we had last year, the Coyotes could use a little help with that.
Noah Hanifin currently plays defense for Boston College and plays a similar style to Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks. He is a big guy at 6’2 and 205 pounds. Hanifin is a strong, fast skater who can, and will, move the puck up the ice. He is a skilled defenseman who is equally effective at both ends of the ice, ending 2014-2015 with 5 goals and 18 assists in 37 games. Hanifin’s skating ability is what really makes him stand out. He can lead the rush or get back in position quickly if caught up ice. It is really difficult to find a weakness in Hanifin’s game. He could be the next elite defenseman.
The big question is what will the Coyotes do with the third pick? Do we draft for position or best available? I think the best available player at three is Hanifin but do we need another defenseman? If the Coyotes don’t go with Hanifin, Strome is probably the top choice. There is also the option of trading the third pick, but Maloney will want a first born and a helicopter, small price to pay, right?